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Treatments & Procedures

LASIK (Laser in situ Keratomileusis)

Laser in-situ keratomileusis, or LASIK, is a popular surgical approach used to correct vision in people who are nearsighted, farsighted, or have astigmatism.

All laser vision correction surgeries work by reshaping the cornea, or clear front part of the eye, so that light traveling through it is properly focused onto the retina located in the back of the eye. There are a number of different surgical techniques used to reshape the cornea.

What are the advantages of LASIK?

LASIK has many benefits including:

  • It works! It corrects vision. Around 80% of patients will be at their desired endpoint after LASIK. An enhancement can further increase this number.
  • LASIK laser eye surgery is associated with very little pain.
  • Vision is corrected nearly immediately or by the next day after LASIK laser eye surgery.
  • Recovery is quick and usually no bandages or stitches are required after LASIK laser eye surgery.
  • Adjustments can be made years after LASIK laser eye surgery to further correct vision.
  • After having LASIK laser eye surgery, most patients no longer need corrective eyewear.

What are the disadvantages of LASIK?

  • Changes made to the cornea cannot be reversed after LASIK laser eye surgery.
  • Corrections can only be made by additional LASIK laser eye surgeries.
  • LASIK laser eye surgery is expensive, typically costing $2,200 to $2,250 per eye.
  • LASIK laser eye surgery is technically complex. Problems may occur when the doctor cuts the flap, which can permanently affect vision.
  • LASIK laser eye surgery can cause a loss of "best" vision with or without glasses at 1 year after surgery. Your best vision, is the highest degree of vision that you achieved while wearing your contacts or eyeglasses.

What are the potential side affects of LASIK?

Some patients experience discomfort in the first 24-48 hours after surgery. Other side effects, although rare, may include:

  • Glare
  • Seeing halos around images
  • Difficulty driving at night
  • Fluctuating vision
  • Dry eyes

The FDA has found there to be no long term side effects with this surgery.

How should I prepare for surgery?

Before your LASIK laser eye surgery you will meet with a coordinator who will discuss with you what you should expect during and after the surgery. During this session your medical history will be evaluated and your eyes will be tested. Likely tests will include measuring corneal thickness, refraction, and pupil dilation. Once you have gone through your evaluation, you will meet the surgeon, who will answer any further questions you may have. Afterward you can schedule an appointment for the procedure.

If you wear rigid gas permeable contact lenses, you should not wear them for three weeks before your surgery. Other types of contact lenses shouldn’t be worn for at least three days prior to surgery. Be sure to bring your glasses to the surgeon so your prescription can be reviewed.

On the day of your surgery, eat a light meal before coming and take all of your prescribed medications. Do not wear eye makeup or have any bulky accessories in your hair that will interfere with positioning your head under the laser. If you are not feeling well that morning, call the doctor’s office to determine whether the procedure needs to be postponed.

What happens during the procedure?

During LASIK laser eye surgery, an instrument called a microkeratome, is used to cut a thin flap in the cornea. The cornea is then peeled back and the underlying cornea tissue is reshaped using an excimer laser. After the cornea is reshaped so that it can properly focus light into the eye and onto the retina, the cornea flap is put back in place and the surgery is complete.

The surgery is performed while the patient is under a local anesthesia and usually takes about 10 minutes to complete.

What should I expect after surgery?

Healing after LASIK laser eye surgery usually occurs very rapidly. Most patients notice improved vision within a few days after LASIK laser eye surgery. However, your vision may be blurry and hazy for the first day. You should plan to have someone drive you home after LASIK eye surgery.

Your eyes will be dry even though they do not feel that way. Your doctor will give you prescription eye drops to prevent infection and keep your eyes moist. These drops may cause a momentary slight burn or blurring or your vision when you use them. Do not use any drops not approved by your ophthalmologist. Specific follow up after the surgery varies from one surgeon to another. You will revisit the doctor for an evaluation 24 to 48 hours after LASIK laser eye surgery, as well as at regular intervals within the first six months after surgery.

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This information is provided by the Cleveland Clinic and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition. This document was last reviewed on: 5/6/2009...#8595